How did relations between Britain and the colonies change after the French and Indian War?

Lesson Plan

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Upper Elementary, Middle, High School


VS.4, VS.5, US1.5, US1.6, VUS.4, VUS.5

Demonstrating Comprehension; Comparing and Contrasting; Determining Cause and Effect; Using Information Sources; Organizing Information; Questioning and Critical Thinking Skills

This lesson also meets national standards for social studies.



Students will create a broadside representing the views of the colonists in reaction to the actions of the British following the French and Indian War.

Essential question:

How did relations between Britain and the colonies change after the French and Indian War?


Featured Sources

Source A: Join or Die political cartoon

Source B: Proclamation Line of 1763 Map

Source C: Mitchell Map, 1755

Source D: The Pennsylvania journal and weekly advertiser -expiring: in hopes of a resurrection to life again

Source E: [Masthead and part of front page of The Massachusetts spy, or, Thomas’s Boston journal showing a female figure of Liberty in upper left and rattlesnake labeled “Join or Die” symbolizing the 13 colonies, challenging a griffin, across the top]

Additional Materials

What is a broadside?

What was the Stamp Act? Essay

What were the Currency Act and the Sugar Act? Essay

Why was the Tea Act of 1773 so important? Essay

Modern map of United States

Primary Source Analysis Sheet


Step 1: Have students look at original Join or Die cartoon. Ask students to make educated guesses about the image, and lead a class discussion. During the discussion share the following information:

The cartoon was created by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 and published in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette.

At the time, the colonists were fiercely debating whether or not to expand west of the Appalachian Mountains to fight the French and their Indian allies.

During Franklin’s era, there was a myth that a severed snake would come back to life if the pieces were put together before sunset

The cartoon depicts the early American colonies as a snake divided into eight segments.

Toward the head of the snake, “NE” represents New England, followed by “NY” (New York), “NJ” (New Jersey), “P” (Pennsylvania), “M” (Maryland), “V” (Virginia), “NC” (North Carolina) and “SC” (South Carolina). Even though there were four “New England” colonies, Franklin lumped them into one category to stress the need for colonial unity. Georgia is not represented for an unknown reason.

Step 2: Have students examine the Mitchell map. Students should compare borders of states with modern state lines. Next, have students examine the Proclamation map. What is the impact of the proclamation of 1763? What is the expected reaction? What impact might this have on the relationship between Britain and the colonies?

(Possible extension activity: the Mitchell map is available in several pieces. For kinetic learners, consider having students work in groups where each group has one piece of the map. Each group should interpret their piece, and then the class should work together to put together the map before comparing state lines and the impact of the proclamation.)

Step 3: Give students primary source analysis sheets, and the essays on colonial taxes. Divide students into small teams. After reading about the colonial taxes, have students interpret the Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly Advertiser. As a class, discuss the primary source and determine the story behind it and it’s significance. How does it relate to the supporting question?

Step 4: Project the masthead. Have students compare with the original cartoon from 20 years prior. What has changed? What do these changes tell us about the relationship between the colonists and  Britain?


Have students read the brief essay “What is a Broadside?” Students will create a broadside representing the views of the colonists in reaction to the actions of the British following the French and Indian War.

Extension Activity — #Hashtag: Poor Richard on Twitter

Create a Twitter feed for Benjamin Franklin. Choose one of these events and imagine Franklin’s response if he had access to today’s social media. Students should be creative and remember Franklin’s sense of humor.